Andy Seltzer writes…
Who would have thought that we had a major cycle race on just a stones throw from East Grinstead town centre? Deers Leap yet again hosted a round of the Southern Area Mountain Bike series. East Grinstead CC managed to field a couple of riders with Gary Williams joining me having made the trip over from Spain we were both using this as training for next weekends Gorrick Enduro at Bagshot, which again was training for Gary for his assault on this years Sierra Nevada El Limited Mountain Bike Marathon.
Gary was actually riding in the colours of Club Cicista Berja his first claim club, some how his sun tan didn’t suit the conditions. One thing Deers Leap is well known for is the mud and there was plenty of it. To be fair to the excellent organisation of Team Darenth when I rode a practice lap the ground on many of the single track sections was just soft but pretty predictable, the heavy rain though mid way through our race changed that completely with many of the singletrack sections having the grip of black ice.
In the bigger Mountain bike events there are often a number of races through out the day, the pair of us lined up for the veterans race which had 35 starters for the 3 lap 15mile race. All told the day had attracted just over 200 riders.
As usual the racing was flat out from the start with a new starting point at the top of the park it was a massed charge down to the first obstacle a small bridge. With much jostling for position on the first down hill I narrowly avoided being wiped out by Gary as he bounced out of a large pot hole that even Mid Sussex council would be proud of.
From then on I watched Gary head off into the distance whilst I had my own battle with those around me. Halfway round the second of three laps the rain arrived making conditions on the twisty singletrack almost impossible to ride, in the end on some sections it proved quicker to run. At the head of the veterans race Mark Chadbourne of Ride Cycle Works seemed not to be troubled by the conditions finishing the clear winner in 1hr and 12 minutes, at the start the organisers were expecting the top riders to lap in about 30 minutes. Gary finished in 16th place in 1 hr and 31 minutes, whilst I came in 19th some four minutes later.